ADC approval flurry a driver in MilliporeSigma $65m WI expansion

With five US FDA approvals over the past 15 months, MilliporeSigma says it is confident that ADCs will continue to be a driver for years to come.

Dan Stanton, Managing editor

September 10, 2020

4 Min Read
ADC approval flurry a driver in MilliporeSigma $65m WI expansion
Image: iStock/Olivier Le Moal

With five US FDA approvals over the past 15 months, MilliporeSigma says it is confident that antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) will continue to be a driver of new therapeutics for years to come. A $65 million expansion in Wisconsin aims to exploit this.

The Madison, Wisconsin expansion will bring MilliporeSigma’s contract manufacturing wing large-scale manufacturing capacity for high-potent active pharmaceutical ingredients (HPAPIs). The 70,000 square-foot facility will be designed to handle single-digit nanogram occupational exposure limit materials and will incorporate containment areas to produce linker and payload materials for ADCs.

“MilliporeSigma has been working in the field of conjugation for more than three decades, and specifically performing potent ADC conjugations for well over a decade,” Andrew Bulpin, head of Process Solutions at MilliporeSigma told Bioprocess Insider. In 2015, the firm bolstred its presence in the modality through the $17 billion acquisition of Sigma-Aldrich.


Image: iStock/Olivier Le Moal

“We have experience in numerous different ADC constructs and are a provider of single-use technology to customers transitioning from a historical reliance on dedicated and/or multi-use equipment.”

ADC space

The first ADC, Wyeth and partner Celltech’s Mylotarg (gemtuzumab ozogamicin), was first approved in 2000 for acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The product was pulled from the market in 2010, but in 2017 Marketing Authority Holder Pfizer successfully sought re-approval.

But even with the ebbs and flows of Mylotarg, there are only eight other ADCs commercially available. (See table below).

However, MilliporeSigma remains “very confident that ADCs and the wider bioconjugate technologies will continue to be a significant driver of new therapeutic development for years to come,” Bulpin said.

“There have been five new ADCs approved by the FDA within the past 12 months, and new therapeutic development rarely follows a straight-line/linear pathway.  Historical questions about commercial viability have thinned significantly. Many second- and third- generation technologies are entering and moving through the developmental pipeline, including a wider array of targeted indications.”

Of the nine marketed ADCs, MilliporeSigma claims to be involved in the production process of seven of them, though Bulpin was unable to disclose the customers it works with.

While Madison produces linker and payload materials, the firm’s St. Louis, Missouri facility performs downstream conjugation and “was recently approved by the FDA as a commercial conjugation supplier.”

CDMO business

While this $65 million expansion is driven by direct demand for ADC and HPAPI capacity, Bulpin added it is representative of a wider strategy of investment in its contract manufacturing business.

“Certainly, our ADC business is a significant driver of this expansion but, overall, we are investing wholly in the CMO business to meet the demands of our current and future customer base in multiple technology areas.”

In April, the firm invested $110 million into its gene therapy manufacturing services business, building a second facility at its gene therapy site in California, adding 11 production suites and more than doubling its viral vector capacity.

Furthermore, the firm recently consolidated its contract manufacturing organization (CMO) BioReliance services offering, including manufacturing services in viral vectors, monoclonal antibodies, ADCs [antibody-drug conjugates] as well as testing, cell banking and clearance services.

ADC Approvals




Trade name

FDA approval date

Gemtuzumab ozogamicin


relapsed acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)


Sep 2017

(Originally 2000, withdrawn 2010)

Brentuximab vedotin

Seattle Genetics, Millennium/Takeda

relapsed HL and relapsed sALCL


Aug 2011

Trastuzumab emtansine

Genentech, Roche

HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer (mBC) following treatment with trastuzumab and a maytansinoid


Feb 2013

Inotuzumab ozogamicin


relapsed or refractory CD22-positive B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia


Aug 2017

Polatuzumab vedotin-piiq

Genentech, Roche

relapsed or refractory (R/R) diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL)


June 2019

Enfortumab vedotin

Astellas/Seattle Genetics

adult patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer who have received a PD-1 or PD-L1 inhibitor, and a Pt-containing therapy


Dec 2019

Trastuzumab deruxtecan

AstraZeneca/Daiichi Sankyo

adult patients with unresectable or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer who have received two or more prior anti-HER2 based regimens


Dec 2019

Sacituzumab govitecan


adult patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (mTNBC) who have received at least two prior therapies for patients with relapsed or refractory metastatic disease


Apr 2020

Belantamab mafodotin


multiple myeloma patients whose disease has progressed despite prior treatment with an immunomodulatory agent, proteasome inhibitor and anti-CD38 antibody


Aug 2020

About the Author(s)

Dan Stanton

Managing editor

Journalist covering the international biopharmaceutical manufacturing and processing industries.

Founder and editor of Bioprocess Insider, a daily news offshoot of publication Bioprocess International, with expertise in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors, in particular, the following niches: CROs, CDMOs, M&A, IPOs, biotech, bioprocessing methods and equipment, drug delivery, regulatory affairs and business development.

From London, UK originally but currently based in Montpellier, France through a round-a-bout adventure that has seen me live and work in Leeds (UK), London, New Zealand, and China.

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